June 08, 2015
On Wednesday, Wayne, his daughter Whitney, and I drove to Gorges State Park in North Carolina. Over breakfast, we had decided that we would explore some of the less traveled trails. We started out on the Raymond Fisher trail, which after about .75 miles ends at a mountain pond with several campsites. A sign at the kiosk explained that the pond was made in 1940 for an old home site, and that it now provides a good habitat for various species.
We then continued hiking on an unnamed trail, that is in reality, an old roadbed. It was apparent that this trail was seldom used.
The hole in this tree would make a perfect little den for a small animal or reptile. I didn’t poke around inside to see if anyone was actually home though.
There were several different kinds of mushrooms along the trail. The orange ones look more like flower blooms than fungi.
Blackberries here, Blackberries there, Blackberries everywhere! No shortage of food for a hungry hiker, or bear.
Speaking of bear, we passed four or five piles of scat during our hike. These are some of the more, umm, photogenic.
We also came upon three different snakes. The first one we saw was a water snake near the pond. The second one was a garter who was apparently a little shy about being photographed. It slithered into a hole before we could get a picture. The last one that we saw was a four foot black rat snake that was stretched across the trail like a stick.
Here we had to cross Bearwallow Creek to pick up the trail on the other side. We crossed on moss covered boulders. Fortunately, none of us had any major slips.
Shortly after we started our hike back out, Wayne noticed this yellow jacket nest on the ground. We hadn’t seen it on our hike in. From a distance, it looked like a rock. It’s a good thing that we hadn’t accidentally stepped on it or kicked it.
There are still lots of rhododendron in bloom. I don’t know the name of the plant with the reddish leaves, I just thought that it was kind of pretty and that it stood out from all of the surrounding green vegetation.
Once we were back at the pond, I think that it was Whitney that first noticed these two adult catfish with hundreds of their offspring. The parents kept guard, chasing away would be predators while their young circled overhead.
In all, we hiked about 4 miles in and 4 miles out for a total of 8 miles. Our elevation gain was a little over 1400 feet. For a hot and humid day like this had been, that was plenty. When we arrived back at the park office and referenced their map, we could see that the roadbed that we were following would have taken us to Indian Camp trail, which in turn would have led to Auger Hole trail.
There’s lots more to explore in Gorges State Park including a number of waterfalls that I haven’t seen, so I’ll definitely have to go back.